Self-Sabotaging: Are You Standing on Your Way?

\”Self-sabotage is when we say we want something and then go about making sure it doesn\’t happen.\”

~ Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby

Yesterday, I was leading the last session of the annual General Assembly of AWiB.  My session focused on soliciting ideas from AWiB members on the best use of AWiB’s resources and membership development. I asked how AWiB can best meet its members’ needs and why members are not using what benefits them most in their personal development, like taking conversational English class offered by native speakers, reading information uploaded on the AWiB’s dynamic website, and so forth.

One of the answers given struck me, “We need others to keep on pushing us for our own development. We start something enthusiastically but do not maintain the energy to finish it.”  This made me reflect on how we can stand on our way of personal excellence.  After my January presentation on uncovering our purpose in life, I could easily see that we may have discovered our purpose but living to what we believe in is a real struggle for many due to “valid” reasons which I now call them self-sabotaging behavior.  New Year resolutions usually fail to be accomplished for we set ourselves up for not fulfilling them.

As a psychologist, I keep on thinking what makes people think or do the way they think and do even if that does not help them to be their best?  Why do we want the best for ourselves but when it comes to striving to have it, we present a parade of excuses to prevent success? A person who wants to get a good paying job but writes his/her CV poorly not to look ‘proud’; a man who desires to lose weight and exercised but then gained it all back with poor eating habits to compensate for bad feelings; a person who wants to write a book but fail to start writing one page due to time limitations to produce a book; a man who says he loves his wife and children but does everything possible that alienates himself from them yet he seeks strong relationships;  a woman who decided not to apply for leadership position in the organization she is working because they do not like women leaders; a student who wants to be successful in her studies but feel lazy to study hard due to the weather and friends are not around to help.  These are very good examples of our day to day pretext not to be the best of ourselves for we cut ourselves short.

Notice all the above issues have “good reasons” to defeat the purpose.  Self-sabotaging behavior is tricky, subtle and deceptive. It can cover-up something as ‘righteous and good’ when really, it is self-defeating and bad and actually set a path of hidden destruction.  We stand in between our desire and growth to sabotage our efforts, which eventually lead us to being stuck if not failing. It is a combination of conscious and unconscious decision and action that keep us from living our full potential.  Self-sabotaging behavior begins with a focus on what is not working or missing in your life.

Are you sabotaging yourself? Some people drink, some procrastinate, others are just way too lazy, modest.  How do you get in your own way?

I read an article by Edward A. Selby who stated, “We all get in our own way occasionally and some people do it repeatedly, whether it\’s procrastinating, drinking, or overeating. Self-sabotaging behavior results from a misguided attempt to rescue ourselves from our own negative feelings.”  They stated that we often get into trouble trying to escape intense negative feelings. Comfort eating is a common form of self-sabotage, especially when a person has weight concerns; self-medicating with drugs or alcohol is another common form, although procrastination may be the most common of all. Procrastination is the gap between intention and action, and it is in this gap that the self operates. We make an intention to act, the time comes, but instead of acting we get lost in our own deliberation, making excuses to justify an unnecessary and potentially harmful delay. Who makes this decision? We do. The self, in fact, sabotages its own intention.

In order to break the cycle of self-sabotage behavior, first of all we need to know what we call the “good reason” and defeat that.  We cannot move on to the next steps if we are sabotaging our best by good reasons.  If we do not know our multiple justifying reasons and learn to unleash ourselves to live our best self, we will keep on sabotaging our best life.

Second, to ensure that we are not binding ourselves with self-sabotaging behavior, we need to be the gatekeeper of our thoughts and decisions, manifested in actions. Let us examine if our reasons are self-serving? Will this reason help me with my goals? Am I limiting myself in any way?  Being more conscious and self-reflection is the key not to jeopardize our efforts.  Instead of focusing on what is not working, shift to what is working.  In the final analysis, we live with the decision we make and with our actions or inactions.

Third, to end the cycle of self-sabotaging behavior, we need to think about the abuse or neglect of our previous life.  For people who are victims of their past lives are set up for being victim and blaming others.  These results in sneaky and self-destructive attitude – self-sabotage. That is the attitude of not needing to change. Recovery is all about change, but, if everything is always somebody else’s fault, why do I need to change? In the victim role, it is poor me, look what they have done to me, I could not stop it from happening, so I will be a perpetual victim and take no action.  Remember that we are results of our past life but not prisoners.  We may not start off right but we can choose our path to determine our end.  Take care of the reasons to be in control of your actions.

Fourth, we need to deal with fear that sabotages our best self.  Fear has a power to paralyze us.  Undeserved fear is a self-sabotaging invisible rope that holds you back from moving forward. We cannot see it, but we can feel that it is holding us back to make decisions and move on.  It could be fear of failure, of the unknown, relationship and so forth. If we want to stop incapacitating ourselves, we need to remove these self-sabotaging thoughts behind the fears. Replace them with new, empowering thoughts that will push us forward.  Putting our focus on the present helps to deal with fear for we cannot control or predict the future or other people\’s behaviors. All we can control is our own, right here, right now. \”What is the worst thing that could happen?\” Then, let go and know that it is not in your hands to control the future and that rarely do the scenarios we create in our heads occur.

AWiB determines that 2014 be a year of being conscious of our thoughts, decisions and actions, living meaningfully for what we are created for and our passion.  Nothing changes if nothing changes. How much longer are you willing to keep stepping on your own feet, trapping your steps, tripping and falling down? Awareness of the reasons we give, what those reasons serve, challenging the reasons and substituting them with correct ones will help us to move on and take action.

May I call for a divorce from your old friend – self-sabotage, liberating yourself from standing on your way and make new endings to be your best self?